Sean Beckwith: Welcome to the coronavirus carnival

In times of crisis, often you see parents try to distract their children from the bad thing with games, stories or, I don’t know, puppies. I’m not sure how well it works considering I’m iffy on the premise because I am not a parent.

However, judging by the way I’ve been bouncing off the furniture and chasing various volleyballs, footballs and Frisbees, I’m more in the category of “child who needs to be distracted” than concerned parent. So being the age of some young parents with the maturity of an old kid, I thought I would be the perfect person to create game show-type diversions out of everyday happenings.

Think of me like a Willy Wonka for Aspen. I would say without the dark, child negligence/manslaughter tendencies, but who am I kidding? We’re in a pandemic; everything is going to have morbid undertones.

Without further ado, welcome to the big top, Aspen’s coronavirus carnival, including plenty of games and prizes that may require quarantine.

Supermarket shopping spree

The rona has turned casual trips to the grocery into free-for-alls with directional aisles and first-come, first-served battle royales. You want toilet paper that’s more than a step above tissue paper normally reserved for gift bags? Better get there early and be prepared to give Doris a shot to ribs.

Typical game show shopping sprees are timed to prevent contestants from systematically buying the choicest products. Instead of being on a time constraint to limit the amount you loot, you’re on a timer because every second that goes by you risk running into face maskless morons sampling nuts in the dispenser aisle or fondling and sniffing produce.

Once at the self-checkout, make sure to bag the groceries as fast as possible to avoid sideways glares from the attendant. Who cares if all your produce gets bruised and you have to throw out half your apples; it’s a game show, all the food is free, right?

Get in, get out and hope you got everything on your list so you don’t have to make an extra stop during the socially distanced lunch rush at Whole Foods.

Downtown is LAVA!!!

If you’re like most Americans, you’ve exhausted most everything on Netflix and are now turning to drivel. “Outlaw/King,” aka the sequel to “Braveheart,” starring Chris Pine? I’m all in on the King of the Scots. At this point every Netflix original movie premiere is less and less Lifetime movie and more and more Hollywood showcase.

Can I interest you in a glorified version of a game you played as children?

“The Floor is Lava” is maddeningly simple and endlessly entertaining. It’s begging for a spinoff, and I’m here to deliver on that dream.

I’ve been playing my own version of this game where you have to traverse about town while avoiding coming into contact with hoards of teenagers with mask around their neck.

“Can he get through the pedestrian mall without getting a face full of COVID? We’ll see if he remembered to use his face mask. The Texas trio opted out of masks and we all know what happened to them. *Cough* COUGH *cough*.”

The shortcuts and “hidden” helpers seem so obvious to the outsider but might as well be AP calculus to some of the idiots inside the game.

DON’T break the ice

The original game seems so harmless. If penguins break through the ice and fall into the ocean, it’s OK because they’re suited for freezing water. But upon closer inspection, the reality is there are killer whales and sharks waiting to kill and eat the plumpest, juiciest game bird of them all. (I’ve never had penguin but I imagine it’s like a chicken that’s already been brined.)

You think if they put penguin-eating animals under that fake tray of ice kids would be psyched to send “Happy Feet” to a saltwater grave? Hell no. Try explaining to little Johnny and Susie that Nemo gets eaten 87% of the time.

With each translucent blue cube that falls, the possibility of the ice giving way, like the summer season, increases. It turns out the hardest part of the new normal is convincing people that there actually is a new normal.

Seemingly meaningless taps of the mallet — a handshake, a hug, a family gathering — will eventually break it. The game is “Don’t Break the Ice,” not infect every town you visit.

It’s not solely visitors from the current U.S. hot spots, it’s everyone who gets to Aspen and whips off their masks like they were swimsuits at a nudist beach. Who will win the everlasting gobstopper? Hell, if you wear your mask, I’ll give you a king size Hershey bar myself.

If you opt to go without a face covering, I’ll give you a golden ticket back to where you came from. And those people in the orange suits ushering you out aren’t oompa loompas, they’re health care professionals in hazmat suits because you’re a walking biohazard.

Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at